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When it comes to scams, there are many different forms people use to take advantage of others. We’ve put together a comprehensive list of scam suggestions that our customers should be wary of and avoid interacting with.

How to Identify a Scam

  1. Legitimate sweepstakes don’t require you to pay or buy something to enter or improve your chances of winning, or to pay “taxes” or “shipping and handling charges” to get your prize. If you have to pay to receive your “prize,” it’s not a prize at all.
  2. Sponsors of legitimate contests identify themselves prominently; fraudulent promoters are more likely to downplay their identities. Legitimate promoters also provide you with an address or toll-free phone numbers so you can ask that your name be removed from their mailing list.
  3. Bona fide offers clearly disclose the terms and conditions of the promotion in plain English, including rules, entry procedures, and usually, the odds of winning.
  4. It’s highly unlikely that you’ve won a “big” prize if your notification was mailed by bulk rate. Check the postmark on the envelope or postcard. Also be suspicious of telemarketers who say you’ve won a contest you can’t remember entering.
  5. Fraudulent promoters might instruct you to send a check or money order by overnight delivery or courier to enter a contest or claim your “prize.” This is a favorite ploy for con artists because it lets them take your money fast, before you realize you’ve been cheated.
  6. Disreputable companies sometimes use a variation of an official or nationally recognized name to give you confidence in their offers. Don’t be deceived by these “look-alikes.” It’s illegal for a promoter to misrepresent an affiliation with — or an endorsement by — a government agency or other well-known organization.
  7. It’s important to read any written solicitation you receive carefully. Pay particularly close attention to the fine print. Remember the old adage that “the devil is in the details.”
  8. Agreeing to attend a sales meeting just to win an “expensive” prize is likely to subject you to a high-pressure sales pitch.
  9. Signing up for a sweepstakes at a public location or event, through a publication or online might subject you to unscrupulous prize promotion tactics. You also might run the risk of having your personal information sold or shared with other marketers who later deluge you with offers and advertising.
  10. Some contest promoters use a toll-free “800” number that directs you to dial a pay-per-call “900” number. Charges for calls to “900” numbers may be very high.
  11. Disclosing your checking account or credit card account number over the phone in response to a sweepstakes promotion — or for any reason other than to buy the product or service being sold — is a sure-fire way to get scammed in the future.
  12. Your local Better Business Bureau and your state or local consumer protection office can help you check out a sweepstakes promoter’s reputation. Be aware, however, that many questionable prize promotion companies don’t stay in one place long enough to establish a track record, and the absence of complaints doesn’t necessarily mean the offer is legitimate.

How to Identify a Banking/Credit Card Scam

Banking Information:
We have received reports of a telephone scam where individuals are receiving phone calls in an attempt to obtain their debit card numbers and other card information. These callers identify themselves as Carroll Bank & Trust. This is a scam. Carroll Bank & Trust does not make unsolicited calls requesting sensitive account information. If you have provided your card number or other information to one of these calls, please call any branch of Carroll Bank & Trust immediately.

By understanding how the VISA & MasterCard telephone Credit Card Scam works, you’ll be better prepared to protect yourself. How they trick individuals is by providing the individual with all of their information. The red flag is asking for you pin associated with the account. Visa or Mastercard will not call you to confirm fraudulent activity then proceed to ask for your PIN. Do not give it to them. Hang up and call your card’s customer service.

Consumer Protections

Several consumer laws help protect consumers against fraudulent sweepstakes and prize offers promoted through the mail or by phone.

The federal government has created the National Do Not Call Registry – the free, easy way to reduce the telemarketing calls you get at home. To register, or to get information, visit, or call 1-888-382-1222 from the phone you want to register. You will receive fewer telemarketing calls within 30 days of registering your number. It will stay in the registry for five years or until it is disconnected or you take it off the registry. After five years you will be able to renew your registration.

Consumers who believe they have been victimized by fraudulent promotional offers also should contact their local postmaster or the U.S. Postal Inspection Service by phone, toll-free, at: 1-888-877-7644; by email, or by mail at: U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Office of Inspector General, Operations Support Group, 222 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 1250, Chicago, IL 60606-6100.

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